I never really thought I needed a "support group," but I've learned there is something very special and healing about a community of people who share the same struggle.
I am more of a "reader" than a "writer" in the online support group I belong to for parents who have lost children to brain tumors.
Every once in a while I share, but normally I read and soak in other people's comments, ideas, questions.
Many times I am wordless.
I read and want to respond but feel like I come up short with any kind of wisdom, because I too have the same questions, the same fears, the same kind of tough days.
Over 200 of us belong.
We represent a lot of pain.
We represent a lot of different walks of life.
And we definitely represent a lot of different views of life and death.
But one thing we all have in common is this: we miss our kids.
That's where I find my bond with these moms, dads, and even grandmas and aunts.
So last week after I had such a tough week with my health, I found comfort in the words a mom wrote about her daughter's recent struggle with a recurring headache.
In response to another mom whose child was having strange headaches she had written these words on Friday,
"A headache is never "just a headache" anymore for any of us. It is a trigger of
grief and anxiety of that terrible thing happening again."
As I read her words, a feeling of "being normal" came over me.
Sometimes in the "real world" I don't feel normal very often.
Conversations happen, in which I am a participant, and words are said that strike me in a totally different way than they do anyone else.
I don't react externally, but often internally, I feel the accidental knife, I feel the reality that there are just some things about me that have removed me from the world's view of normal.
Grief calls people to a higher road of patience, love, and mercy; because when you lose someone you love deeply, you suddenly see the frailty of life in a way that many people just can not.
You understand that plans are simply plans.....not promises.
You realize that dates on a calendar can mean celebrations for one family and agony for another.
You "get" that family pictures never feel quite right anymore.
You receive Christmas cards that share the joy of the season and yet you realize that for many the season lacks the joy it once had.
Not that grieving people never laugh anymore or want to smile.
Not that grieving people can't let go.
Not that grieving people are hopeless.
But they just walk a road parallel and yet separate from their non-grieving friends.
Our road crosses over the same events as non-grieving friends.
We do birthdays.
We do Christmas.
We do parties.
We do jobs.
But we do everything with an underlying awareness that something about us is just a little different.
So, for me, even with my extreme confidence in Christ.
Even with my deep belief that one day I will hold Adrienne and hug Nick and share eternity with them,
I need a support group.
I need to know that there are other moms and dads out there who are trying to decide how to sign their Christmas cards.
I need to know that there are other families out there who want to keep their children who have passed away alive in the hearts of their other children or in the hearts of aunts and uncles, and that they are wondering what they can do throughout the holidays to make this happen.
I realize I will never be "normal" again when it comes to being a mom.
But last week those words from another grieving mom helped me realize that a week ago when I rode in an ambulance after having a vision scare that it was pretty normal for me to panic, to fear the worst.
As I step back into another Monday, I step back into it thankful.
Thankful that I have friends I can hug who have never walked the road I am on and thankful that I have friends I may never meet who walk the same road I do.
If you find yourself struggling with any type of problem that isolates you from those around you, I highly recommend finding a support group.
Thankful for the comfort God has brought me.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
II Cor. 1:3-4